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The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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The Nicene Creed (Latin: Symbolum Nicaenum) is the creed or profession of faith (Greek: Σύμβολον τῆς Πίστεως*) that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene (pronounced /ˈnaɪsiːn/) because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in 325. The Nicene Creed has been normative to the Anglican and Roman Catholic Eucharistic rite as well as Eastern and Oriental Orthodox liturgies.

The purpose of a creed is to act as a yardstick of correct belief. The creeds of Christianity have been drawn up at times of conflict about doctrine: acceptance or rejection of a creed served to distinguish believers and deniers of a particular doctrine or set of doctrines. For that reason a creed was called in Greek a σύμβολον**, a word that meant half of a broken object which, when placed together with the other half, verified the bearer’s identity. The Greek word passed through Latin “symbolum” into English “symbol”, which only later took on the meaning of an outward sign of something. The Nicene Creed was adopted in the face of the Arian controversy. Arius, a Libyan preacher, had declared that although Jesus Christ was divine, God had actually created him, and there was a time when he was not. This made Jesus less than the Father and contradicted the doctrine of the Trinity.  Arius’s teaching provoked a serious crisis.

The Nicene Creed of 325 explicitly affirms the divinity of Jesus, applying to him the term “God”. The 381 version speaks of the Holy Spirit as worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son. The Athanasian Creed describes in much greater detail the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed, not formulated in reaction to Arianism, makes no explicit statements about the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit, but, in the view of many who use it, the doctrine is implicit in it.

 

*sumbolon tes pisteous 

** sumbolon: symbol; identifying token

 

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God loves his saints as the purchase of his Son’s blood… He that was willing to expend his Son’s blood to gain them, will not deny his power to keep them.

 

William Gurnall  –  (1617-1679)

William was born at King’s Lynn, Norfolk, was educated at the free grammar school of his native town, and in 1631 was nominated to the Lynn scholarship in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1635 and MA in 1639. He was made rector of Lavenham in Suffolk in 1644; and before he received that appointment he seems to have officiated, perhaps as curate, at Sudbury.

At the Restoration he signed the declaration required by the Act of Uniformity 1662, and on this account he was the subject of a libellous attack, published in 1665, entitled Covenant-Renouncers Desperate Apostates.

Gurnall is known by his Christian in Complete Armour, published in three volumes, dated 1655, 1658 and 1662. It consists of sermons or lectures delivered by the author in the course of his regular ministry, in a consecutive course on Ephesians 6: 10-20. The fact that a sixth edition was published in the year the author died, 1679, is enough to show that its merits were early recognized. It is described as a magazine whence the Christian is furnished with spiritual arms for the battle, helped on with his armor, and taught the use of his weapon; together with the happy issue of the whole war. It is thus considered a classic on spiritual warfare. The work is more practical than theological; and its quaint fancy, graphic and pointed style, and its fervent religious tone render it still popular with some readers.

Richard Baxter and John Flavel both thought most highly of the book. Toplady used to make copious extracts from it in his common-place book. John Newton, the converted slave trader, said that if he was confined to one book beside the Bible, he dared say Gurnall’s Christian Armour would be his choice. Cecil spent many of the last days of his life in reading it, and repeatedly expressed his admiration of it. Charles Haddon Spurgeon commented that Gurnall’s work is “peerless and priceless; every line full of wisdom. The book has been preached over scores of times and is, in our judgment, the best thought-breeder in all our library.”

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This blog still concerns the Scripture found in Matthew 4:1-11.  In my last post, we have studied how the Lord responded to satan’s barrage of temptation and lies.  Here, we look what satan did to God’s Word inorder to tempt the Lord:

 (v. 2) : “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread”

Lie # 1:  Ignoring the truth.  Jesus IS the Son of God and by ignoring that truth, the tempter begins with “if”.  For sure satan knew that; Jesus was his Creator and former Master.  The Lord created him as Lucifer, the most beautiful of all angels, until inquity was found in him and he was cast out of heaven. Indeed, Jesus has the power to make bread out of  stones.  He rained down manna in the desert sufficiently  for all the Israelites to eat daily!  Yet no one has ever seen or known what manna is. Jesus is the I Am.

There is a growing number of people coming to church today who aren’t even sure that He is the Son of God and they only come to Him to see if He can really do a miracle for them, so that they might believe. 

You see, God, in His mercy would also let His children go through a time of  need before or after a time of plenty. Observing the Lord’s reply, quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, we find in that particular narrative, God intended for His people to go through the wilderness to be tested, be humbled, be provided with nothing else but manna so that they will know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. A man lives because God sustains his life. And that sustaining life is a display of God’s gracious goodness, especially to His people, so that they will not forget that He is their Good Lord, the Sustainer of Life. 

Even in the preaching of this section of Scripture, I have heard sermons ignoring the counsel of God’s truth contained in the Lord’s reply. Unless we plow through the Scriptures, we will not have a full orbed understanding of the kindness of the Lord even in lean times and be forced to take actions that may lead to sin, regret and a season of  misery.

(v. 6) : “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

Lie # 2: Twisting the truth. Of course, the one who ignores the truth will twist the truth. Here, the tempter once again starts with an “if” and we already know that Jesus IS, and He will not and never be an “if”.

Here, satan parodies the Lord…we think that satan is proving that he knows the Scripture, well, it’s much more than that.  Satan, a fallen angel, was mocking the Captain of the Host (commander of the armies of angels). 

When (not if) you read Psalm 91, it clearly teaches that God is our refuge; He will deliver us the from the snare of the fowler (Psalm 91:3). It shows that we must hold fast to Him in love (Psalm 91:14).  Here again, we see that the reality of the steadfast love for God must essentially be manifested in our trust for Him even times of danger.

Yes, Jesus could have thrown Himself from the top of the temple (notice (v.5) satan’s mockery continues  as he took the Lord to the highest point of Jerusalem Temple where God’s presence was – the secret place of the Most High in Psalm 91) and angels would have surely prevented His foot from striking any stone. But our Lord loves His Father perfectly and would not at all put Him to the test but obeyed Him unreservedly.

God’s thoughts and ways are Christ’s as well…so the only wise thing for us is to pattern our thoughts and ways to Him.  Scripture twisting has steadily been becoming the norm a growing number of people in the church today, but God preserves those who are steadfast in their love for the living Word – Jesus, and the written word – Scriptures, from the snare of the one who mangles the truth – satan.

(v. 9) “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Lie # 3: Adding to the truth.   This time there was no beating around the bush, no more “if you are the Son of God” pretexts.  Although the entire creation fell into the corruption brought by man’s sin, and satan becoming the ‘god of this world’ (2 Corinthians 4:4), he does not, never did, nor will be the owner of anything.  Jesus is the Owner, was and will always be. Although satan knew that he has blinded the mind of the unbeliever, he nevertheless do not own them, nor anything in this world. Satan has added ownership to his God-permitted dominion that is why he made that offer to the Lord foolishly, and diabolically tried to entice the Lord to worship him

Since he has succeeded in deceiving the first Adam, so he thought he will succeed again. Not this time though. You see, Jesus, while in His incarnation, showed satan who is truly God to be obeyed. Jesus said, (v.10) “…be gone satan…” and (v.11) …the devil left.  Much to my chagrin, in the church, there are those who keep adding to God’s word ending up with doctrines and practices that are fit for false gods, and not the true God.

 “Do not add to His words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar”– Proverbs 30:6

Before I get accused of church-bashing, let it be clear that I am a part of this church that I am referring to above – not a local church, but the universal invisible church which is the Body of Christ where men and women throughout all the ages who are regenerated by God to repent from sin, and for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, are baptized into this body by the Spirit of God. This church of the living God is supposed to be the pillar and buttress of truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and this church is founded by,  built upon, and for the one Truth-bearer – Jesus Christ.

Immediately following the narrative, we read another prophecy by Isaiah fulfilled in Jesus Christ:

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”  – Matthew 4:15-16; cf Isaiah 9:1-2

Only through Him can the lie of satan be exposed. And His anouncement of the kingdom began with “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  The church needs to repent and shed herself off the lies that she allowed and tolerated, and she needs to get back to her First Love – Jesus Christ – through the enscripturated truth and work of the Holy Spirit, and be the pillar and upholder of the only truth that God has called her to be. The whole truth and nothing but the truth…so help us, Lord!

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